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9/11/2013 6:05:00 AM
Finding a way back home
Abandonment in Kingman leads to long-overdue family reunion
Carolyn King, left, talks with Alice, a resident of Diana’s Faith House  Tuesday. The shelter took in King last Thursday after a truck driver abandoned her at a local truck stop, and people at the shelter helped locate King’s children, whom she hasn’t seen in nearly two decades. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)
Carolyn King, left, talks with Alice, a resident of Diana’s Faith House Tuesday. The shelter took in King last Thursday after a truck driver abandoned her at a local truck stop, and people at the shelter helped locate King’s children, whom she hasn’t seen in nearly two decades. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter


Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified one of the people in the photograph.

KINGMAN - What a difference 72 hours can make.

Thursday was a very bad day for Carolyn King. One of the worst of her life. Sunday, on the other hand, was likely the best.

The 59-year-old from Birmingham, Ala., found herself abandoned at Love's Truck Stop outside of Kingman with no money, no identification, no address book and no idea how she would survive more than 1,700 miles from home.

Devastated, frightened, alone and lonely, three days later King would experience a dramatic turnaround of emotions when the dedicated efforts of one woman led her to a son and daughter she hasn't seen in 18 years - and grandchildren she has never seen.

Never even knew they existed.

Here's how her bad day went: Clarence, a truck driver King has gone on the road with before, abandoned her following a tiff and took her purse with him.

"I might have made a comment about him being a control freak," said Carolyn. "I guess he showed me."

King called the Mohave County Sheriff's Office. Deputies rode up and down Interstate 40 looking for Clarence, who was driving a tractor-trailer owned by the Mason & Dixon Lines trucking company out of Warren, Mich.

She went inside to freshen up and buy something to eat while Clarence filled up with fuel.

"When I came out he was gone," said King. "Just gone. He didn't even come in and get his gas receipt."

Sheriff's deputies called the Cornerstone Mission homeless shelter to arrange for King to have a place to stay. Workers at Cornerstone referred her to Diana's Faith House, Cornerstone Mission's shelter for homeless women and children.

King cried for the first two days at Diana's Faith House, according to Shelter Manager Andrea LeFebvre.

She had no way to contact friends back in Alabama for help because her phone book was with Clarence.

The other women at the shelter attempted to raise funds to purchase a bus ticket for King, but their efforts yielded only $35.

"On the third day I began to really question her about her family," said LeFebvre.

Sunday, after about three hours of Internet time, LeFebvre found two people she thought might know King. They didn't live in Alabama. They lived in Detroit and in California and they hadn't seen their mother for nearly two decades.

She hit pay dirt just two calls in.

Cherice Hollenquist was a senior in high school when her mom suffered an emotional breakdown prompted by many personal issues, none more difficult to deal with than when her own mother died.

King decided to leave her lifelong home in Detroit and headed south with a friend to Gadsden, Ala., and eventually to Birmingham.

She spent the next two decades traveling the country with three different truck drivers and lost all contact with her family.

She can't really explain what happened or why, but neither does she make any excuses.

"Sometimes you just have to get away," she said. "My sisters and brothers were all married and I was a single parent. Life was hard for me back then."

King's sister raised her son, who was 7 years old when she left. Cherice was practically an adult and she gave birth to twins not long after King left Detroit.

"I did a lot of Googling and who-wheres and 411-dot-com," said LeFebvre.

"Her daughter started to cry when I asked if she was related to my resident," said LeFebvre. "She has been trying to locate her mom for the past 20 years."

Feelings overwhelmed King when LeFebvre handed her the phone.

"The first three minutes were very emotional," she said. "We talked about my grandchildren I've never seen. We talked mostly about family and how we missed each other.

"She wants me to come home."

LeFebvre found King's son, now 25, living near his father in California. She located Cherice on whowhere.com, a free people finder website, and she found her son on Facebook.

There are a total of eight women and two children residing at Diana's Faith House and King has touched all of them and they have touched King.

"I love them all," King said. "I came here with the clothes on my back and have not wanted for anything. I've been treated so well."

LeFebvre continues to seek donations to purchase a bus ticket for King, who plans on returning to Birmingham long enough to collect personal belongings out of the room she rents before heading home to Detroit.

About $200 is all that's required, said LeFebvre, to get King to Birmingham. Of course, more money might guarantee she gets all the way home to Detroit.

To donate, call LeFebvre at (928) 757-1535.

And what will King do should she and Clarence ever cross paths?

"I'd give him a hug and say thank you. If he hadn't left me here there's no telling how long before I'd get back together with my family, if ever."

"She was shell-shocked at first," said LeFebvre. "But she found out there are nine ... ladies in Arizona who gave her shelter, food, comfort and love unconditionally and with no boundaries. That is what we do at Diana's Faith House. We help people to move on no matter what it takes. I personally feel very blessed to have been able to help reunite this family."

Mission Bank

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: eleanor hartmann

THERE FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I

thank God and the city of kingman for helping her and especially for finding her children.

WHAT WEB SITE DID SHE USE, I can't find the people I want to find.

I will support Diane's house with whatever I can afford to give hope others do also.


Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Article comment by: Midwest Momma

I agree with trucker's wife. I have met many hard-working people that have had bad things happen beyond their control not from bad choices that they made themselves. They did not get any support or help. Kingman is getting a reputation, and unfortunately it is a bad one. Loserville, Methville, etc. And it is sad, this is really a great central area close to Vegas, Phoenix, Flagstaff, and California. The front page coverage will definitely get attention, the wrong kind from the wrong people. Come to Kingman if you are messed up and want a handout. Some people deserve the help, others... not so much.

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: Audra J

We are truly blessed to have a place like Cornerstone and Diana's Faith House. I am so grateful to all the people who are working directly and indirectly with these people and families to make these facilities a possibility. Thank you all for every thing you do each and everyday.

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: M G

Amazing things happen in the time of downfall. This article proves there are still some really great people out there. God Bless you Miss King and all you do! Enjoy seeing your children again and give your grandchildren more hugs, kisses, time and love you all deserve!!!! You're an angel Miss LeFebvre! God sent this woman to you to help her find her family. Awesome story!!!!

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: trucker's wife

Ok so let me get this straight...this woman abandons her kids to become what is known as a lot lizard (truck driver companion/prostitute) and she has the nerve to ask for the public's help and money??She should have gone to prison for child neglect and abandonment, emotional breakdown or not.



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